Sensory Precautions Utilized by Massage Therapists Treating Individuals That Are on The Autism Spectrum and Suffer from Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that 1 out of every 68 children are diagnosed with a type of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

While there is currently no cure for the conditions that fall under the ASD umbrella, there are treatments that aid in the management of the behaviors and symptoms of ASD. One of these is massage therapy.

This is especially true for those patients that also suffer from sensory processing disorder (SPD). Numerous massage therapists across the nation are now providing their services to patients that are on the autism spectrum and also have a diagnosis of SPD.

Continue reading to learn about the sensory precautions that these therapists are taking when working with these patients.

Visual Precautions

When patients suffer from both ASD and SPD, they often experience issues with the eyes. In most cases, the eyes do not work together or there is a distinguished blind spot within the vision.

Massage therapists know and understand that these patients should not be approached in a full-on manner. This could result in sensory overload. As a result, they will carefully approach the patient and from the side. This will help the patient adjust to the information without any complications.

Auditory Precautions

When ASD and SPD are both being experienced, the patient may be unable to appropriately filter sounds. When this happens, it could result in the development of fear.

Massage therapists know and understand this. The goal is to ensure that their patient is relaxed and comfortable. As a result, many therapists will speak in a very soft voice. They may play gentle, soft music or they may give their patient noise-cancelling headphones during the session.

Tactile Precautions

It is a known fact that individuals that suffer from both ASD and SPD are either too sensitive to touch or not at all sensitive to touch. If massage therapists approach a patient that is too sensitive to touch, they will use only light touches and will be very careful so that they do not frighten them.

If they find that a patient is not sensitive to touch, they may use tools – such as a massage chair – in order to assist their patient.

Vestibular Precautions

Many with ASD and SPD suffer from malfunctions with the vestibular system. Thus, may result in the sense of balance, gravity, and general awareness of space to be detrimentally impacted.

If this is the case with a patient, the massage therapist will utilize a weighted blanket or similar device or a specially-designed massage chair in place of a table.

Olfactory Precautions

In those with ASD and SPD, the ability to smell may actually misfire. If the individual smells a cream or oil used in the massage session, they may experience fear and anxiety.

Most massage therapists will not utilize these items. If they choose to, they will present the smell to the patient in a calm manner. If it becomes evident that it is troubling to the patient, the therapist will forego using the substance and will focus on ensuring the patient’s comfort level before proceeding with the session.

We Use the Patient’s Lead

We here at Advanced Chiropractic and Wellness Center specialize in providing massage therapy to those that suffer from ASD and SPD, as well as other mental and physical issues.

We know the key to the overall success of the session is to follow the lead of each of our patients. We know that certain groups need time to process that which is happening. If you or someone you love is on the spectrum and would benefit from massage therapy, we can help. Give us a call today at: 706-738-7731